Maemura Akinori: Dr. Hirabaru was kind of the cofounder of my company, which is JPNIC, Japan Network Information Center. And that was established in 1991. And at the time the Internet was just dramatically growing from the interconnection of the research networks to the networks that everyone on the globe was using and relying on.
JPNIC was one of the very first delegatees of a certain [IPO?] that broke from the NIC. But the IP address management at the time was just run by volunteers of the researchers of the computer network. It was not really a streamlined service, and there were no clear rules or criteria or something like that. So JPNIC needed to establish a lot of procedures, rules, and service structures and so on. So Dr. Hirabaru was the key player and the leader to establish the JPNIC organization itself, and then established a lot of rules, procedures, and the service platform and infrastructure.
Mika Hirabaru: My father didn’t talk much with my family about his work. He was just my father and not an engineer for me. He was a very good father for me. And so this induction gives a chance to find out the other side of my father so I could know a new side of him. So it was very great for me.
Intertitle: Describe one of the breakthrough moments of the Internet in which you have been a key participant?
Akinori: Making a rule in a place where there are no rules is quite…a very big [indistinct]. So you know, everything is quite casually—not organized, casually done by the volunteers with their own beliefs or rules. So when the Internet became popular to all people, a different thing was needed of streamlining or organized service kind of concept. So that was a very big point of the Internet to be what it is right now. So it’s a very big point. And such organization included for example the fee structure. The IPS management is just for helping the research network before his work. But the fee structure means that JPNIC with his leadership tried to set a new fee structure with the concept that the cost should be borne by the beneficiaries. Before that the [help?] of the research network was just funded by the research fund from some certain entity for funding the research. At the time actually, the majority of the people thought that the research fund was enough to run the kind of registry service. But he with our JPNIC colleagues tried to formulate a new scheme of cost recovery from the beneficiaries. So that was actually a really historic decision for the registry service at the time.
Intertitle: What does it mean to you that Masaki Hirabaru was inducted to the Internet Hall of Fame?
Akinori: He’s a really good leader. I was finding through the process of his induction to the Hall of Fame, I was contacting a lot of his colleagues. And I found out how much he was loved by the colleagues. He’s a natural leader, and there are a lot people still saying that he was a great guy and told me a lot of memories of him. So I gather that he’s a great leader, and actually took the great leadership not only in JPNIC but also a lot of other research network activities within Japan as well as over the Asia-Pacific region. That tells us how he was a good leader. And that kind of strong leadership was there in the right time, in the right place, to help the Internet to move to the next step.
Hirabaru: It was an amazing thing and a surprising thing for me, because I didn’t have the chance to communicate with these people before now. So this is the first time we met other, and all they say is he was a great man and he made a great thing in this Internet world. So it was very new for me, always new for me. So it was great.
Intertitle: What do you think was Masaki Hirabaru’s legacy?
Akinori: We have three inductees to the Hall of Fame from Japan other than Dr. Hirabaru. And they were more or less involved in JPNIC. But in its emerging phase… So a lot of people actually were involved in JPNIC but he’s quite special. He’s really…for example, even people who are not familiar with the details of JPNIC’s history, many people never fail to point out that he was the leader in that period. And he took up tireless effort to do a lot of jobs, as I said. So he made a really big starting point, and that was a good start for our business at JPNIC. Sometimes we say that we need to follow his spirit. A lot of people involved in that day are so precious, but I mean he’s quite precious.
Hirabaru: He made things with them as a team. Not just for himself but for a team.
Intertitle: What are your greatest hopes and fears for the future of the Internet?
Akinori: It’s a quite special period of time, 2014. We are doing a lot of things working with so-called Internet governance. The context is how the Internet…the decisions, rules, standards, and such kind of—how they should be determined. Like that. Another—not really technical and substantial, but another aspect that we need for stabilizing Internet operation. So that is one of challenges right now.
Another point is security. So, the Internet made a lot of people’s life very convenient and very powerful. It’s much quicker than before. That means that good things can be done quick, as well as bad things can be done very quick. So it accelerates both good and bad at the same time. So security means how to suppress the bad thing being done quickly, or suppressing the bad thing itself. It’s very hard. For example we have a lot of surveillance issues, and privacy [indulgement?]. They need to have some solution to avoid that. But some parts of that issue still have no viable solution. And that’s what we need to tackle. That’s maybe a bad thing.
And then a good thing is that— It’s really inappropriate to say, but smartphones, Internet of Things, a lot of such innovation is still changing our lives. So that is how the Internet will be changing, and the future of our lives with the Internet changing for the future.
So anyhow, someone says in the Hall of Fame even that the Internet is all about socializing. That people’s ideas immediately get contact with others’ ideas. That’s the very function of the Internet as a medium. So it’s… I don’t have any sound idea what is the limit of the effect of the media. For me it is infinite. The Internet has infinite possibility as the medium to connect the ideas of a lot of people. And we have more and more synergy, which we are not of successfully managing. So I have no idea what kind of shape that is, but it’s still a real delight of mine to be involved in running the Internet.
Intertitle: What action should be taken to ensure the best possible future?
Akinori: The time is really different from twenty years ago. The circumstances of the Internet have totally changed and it is really sophisticated, in terms of complicated. And we need to solve a lot of problems to run the Internet sustainably. So the questions to be solved are totally different from twenty years ago. Twenty years ago it was quite an uncharted job to have the Internet organized. But as the Internet spread out all around the world and a lot of people rely on the Internet, from various aspects, running the Internet needs to have a much more wide spectrum of concerns, issues, like public policies, human rights…not only the technical coordination that JPNIC was concentrating on, but we need to cover a lot of aspects. That’s the current challenge. And that’s what his wife said for the induction, that Dr. Hirabaru is one of the researchers who through doing his research in the spirit for the profit of people all around the world— Such a big concept. But I sometimes think about that. Sometimes when I am involved in certain job and task, then sometimes I need to think, is it for the benefit of people all around the world. So such a big picture to emphasize in my mind, it’s a very good exercise for me to do a better job. So in that manner his existence is quite influential to me.